Norway is #1 in EVs
As seen on TV: the future of cars is electric

Regan moves closer to confirmation as EPA Administrator

Michael Regan is a step closer to becoming the first Black man to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, after the Senate Environmental Committee voted 14-6 to advance his nomination. (Lisa Jackson was the first African American to serve in that office, under President Obama.) Regan has pledged to restore science and transparency at the EPA and to “focus on marginalized communities and move ‘with a sense of urgency’ to combat climate change.”  Advocates voiced their support, noting Regan’s track record of environmental justice leadership and community engagement while heading the Department of Environmental Quality in North Carolina. Assuming Regan is confirmed, he will inherit an agency in ugly disarray after four years of leadership hostile to the organization’s mission.

With continuing accumulation of evidence of how fossil fuel pollution is impacting health and taking lives—in particular among communities of color—the Biden-Harris administration will need all the talent possible to quickly act and address climate and racial inequities as well as economic stimulus, and how broad coalitions can support those priorities and prioritize environmental justice.  

Black History Month is a good time to celebrate the rise of environmental justice concerns in public policy discussions. SF Environment is celebrating Black environmental leaders; also this month, the Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

US vs. Norway: electrification rivalry enters new, intense phase (not really)

General Motors made a social media splash last week with an elaborate ad for the electric vehicles it plans to roll out over the next several years. In the ad, actors Will Farrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina rush off to Norway to find out how that relatively small country is beating the US in rolling out EV technology ("We can't let them show us up," the ad warns). The automaker's highlighting of clean-energy transportation is a welcome sign of the times, with rival companies Ford, Audi and others also investing in the shift away from gasoline engines. However, commentators were quick to point out the irony of GM's new enthusiasm for EVs given the company's recent history of fighting emissions reduction rules. Climate journalist Emily Atkin notes that GM declared its zeal for low-carbon vehicles only after a new US government signaled that carbon reduction would be among its top priorities. She also suggests that if GM wants to establish its climate cred, it might want to stop funding climate-denying candidates... and admit that it spent decades trying to undermine climate science. 

At any rate, while a US cultural shift towards clean transportation is welcome, Robinson Meyer notes in The Atlantic that in the future "Americans’ mass adoption of electric vehicles will seem inevitable." EVs cost less to operate and maintain than gas-powered cars, are more reliable... and are a lot quieter. Bonus links: in response to GM's ad, several companies had a little fun standing up for Norway: Audi touted its own EVs while praising Norway's love of protecting the Earth and Circle K advertised its Scandinavian investment in EV charging infrastructure

Opposition watch

The faux-grassroots Timber Unity movement played a significant role in derailing climate progress at the Oregon Legislature in both 2019 and 2020, last year showing up in Olympia as well. In Mother Jones, Rebecca Leber takes a fresh look at Timber Unity’s leadership and its ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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Author Bio

Jonathan Lawson

Senior Editor, Climate Solutions

As Senior Editor, Jonathan provides editorial management and guidance for Climate Solutions’ communications channels, including the organization’s website, social media, and email. He creates, assigns and curates materials for publication, and assesses the effectiveness of the organization’s communications strategies through measurement and analysis, and provides communications support for Climate Solutions programs and initiatives.

Before joining Climate Solutions in 2014, Jonathan served as Executive Director of the communications rights organization Reclaim the Media, where he played a catalytic role in fueling the growth of a national movement focused on media justice and democratizing media and communications policy. He also spent more than eight years providing communications strategy, digital communications and design to statewide labor organizations including SEIU and WFSE/AFSCME, writing op-eds by day and designing giant puppets by night.

A past board member of the Washington News Council and of Seattle Improvised Music, he is also a veteran of the Independent Media Center movement, and has worked in community radio since 1986; for 19 years he produced the weekly creative music program Flotation Device on KBCS. His articles on media and communications issues have appeared in numerous northwest and national publications. Jonathan holds a masters degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University and an AB in English and Religious Studies from Guilford College.